A Private Detective or Private Investigator (PI) is someone who conducts investigations on behalf of a private citizen, corporation, or organisation. They can also work in civil or criminal matters for attorneys on behalf of a defence attorney or a client. Many private investigators work for insurance companies, looking into dubious insurance claims. Private Investigators are sometimes employed to look for proof of adultery or other criminal behaviour within a marriage to create grounds for divorce or child custody.
Private detectives also handle process serving, background checks, skip tracing, and missing person searches. Many organisations around the country specialise in a single area of expertise. Some PI agencies, for example, specialise solely in skip tracing, while others may specialise in surveillance, and yet others may specialise in bug detection, which is the detection and disposal of unwanted forms of electronic surveillance commonly found in corporate espionage or personal eavesdropping cases.
Private Detectives and Private Investigators frequently work unusual hours due to the necessities of their cases, which necessitate monitoring and interaction with people who may or may not be available during standard working hours. Work in the early morning, evening, on weekends, and holidays is widespread. Most Private Detectives and Private Investigators spend most of their time away from their offices doing interviews or surveillance, however, some spend the majority of their time in their office conducting computer searches and making phone calls. Those that run their firms and hire other investigators may spend most of their time in an office and work conventional business hours. Sometimes an investigation requires the investigator to be armed, such as when working as a bodyguard for a business or celebrity client.